1 I sing the birth was born tonight,
The Author both of life and light:
The angels so did sound it;
And like the ravished shepherds said,
Who saw the light and were afraid,
Yet searched, and true they found it.
2 The Son of God, th'eternal King,
That did us all salvation bring,
And freed the world from danger,
He whom the whole world could not take,
The Lord which heav'n and earth did make,
Was now laid in a manger.
3 The Father's wisdom willed it so,
The Son's obedience knew no "No,"
Both wills were in one stature;
And, as that wisdom hath decreed,
The Word was now made flesh indeed,
And took on Him our nature.
4 What comfort by Him do we win,
Who made Himself the price of sin,
To make us heirs of glory!
To see this Babe, all innocence,
A martyr born in our defense--
Can man forget this story?
Jonson, Benjamin, commonly known as Ben Jonson, the son of a clergyman, was born at Westminster in 1573, and educated at Westminster School, and St. John's, Cambridge. He died in London, Aug. 6, 1637. His history and dramatic abilities are well known to all students of English literature. He is known in association with hymnody mainly through his carol, "I sing the birth—was born tonight," which is still in use. It is given in his Underwoods in the 2nd vol. (folio) of his Works, 1640, and entitled "A Hymn on the Nativity of my Saviour." Two additional hymns therein, "The sinner's sacrifice" and "A Hymn to God the Father," have much merit, but are unsuited for congregational use. His Works have been edited by Gifford, and more recently by… Go to person page >
The original chant melody associated with this text [i.e., "Eternal Father, strong to save"] is found in most hymnals of denominations where chant has played a role, including the Lutheran tradition, which has produced much organ music on this well-known chant.
The setting here is by John B. Dykes (…
Display Title: I Sing the Birth Was Born TonightFirst Line: I sing the birth was born tonightTune Title: MELITAAuthor: Ben Jonson, 1573-1637Meter: 88.88.88Source: appeared in his Underwoods, in the second volume (folio) of his Works, published in 1640